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tv   Discussion-- United the States  CSPAN  January 4, 2014 1:30pm-2:36pm EST

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is phil robertson's happy, happy, happy, followed by "strengths finder 2.0. cy robertson's book and willie robertson's the duck commander family in at seven and eight respectively. rounding out the nonfiction bestsellers, gary chapman's "the five love languages," and at number ten, the late chris kyle's recount of "american sniper: the autobiography of the most lethal sniper in u.s. military history." that's a list of 2013's top ten nonfiction bestsellers according to nielsen bookscan. ..
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[applause] >> thank you very much indeed. first of all, it is slightly weird to be writing a book called the men who united states at a time when given all the recent troubles in washington in seems more disunited than for a long time. i know good people turn off their cellphones but i can so i am going to play you a short clip of music at the end so i hope that nobody telephones me during this presentation or i will feel like rudy guiliani. i don't know if you remember when he had to answer a phone while addressing a huge
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political campaign. the scope that doesn't happen. what i want to try to do tonight is tell you about the background of this book which is a big plum pudding of an affair and once i have told you how it will come in to being, two plums from the putting and illustrate what the book is all about but first background. it is the context story. as you might be able to tell i am english. i fell in love with this country quite literally when i first arrived hindered in 1962 as a student hitchhiking. i basically match in london and dublin get to of science fair, schoolchild science fair, i met a young canadian women. i was 17 and she was 16 and we fell in love or whatever one
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does at that age. i went to oxford. that i would visit her. i worked in a mortuary carving up bodies and earned enough money to go see her. i arrived in montreal in early 1962 and saw carol as her name was and after a while there was a huge continent beyond that i would go see and to my parents's dismay when they learned about it i set off hitchhiking to vancouver and that took not a very long time. some dispatch, i decided to see america which i had been fascinated by. who isn't? in english childhood you are
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raised and champion the wonder horse and all the programs we saw back then. i entered the united states i remember vividly in washington state, the first front -- the first sign i saw was welcome to the united states, it is illegal to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. slightly disagreeable. i looked bewildered and in 90 seconds a young man in an english convertible sports car stopped and picked me up and said would you like to come to seattle and that was the beginning of the series of unbelievable experiences which i visited every single state in the union except alaska and hawaii. everyone in the continental u.s.. i traveled by think it was 38,000 miles totally. and everyone without exception was kind and hospitable and generous. i remember for instance one
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occasion south of san francisco, quite late at night, trying to get a ride south to los angeles, couldn't get a ride all night, standing there ranging slightly and at 5:00 in the morning, stopped and said having trouble? i said yes, don't worry i will look after you so he invited me in a squad car and took me to the police station and introduced me to the desk sergeant and took my fingerprint. why not wear these metal bracelets? but he didn't. this was just for souvenir purposes. he was at the end of his shift, shower and breakfast and in a squad car to a truck stop and ordered an 18 wheeler driver to took me down, was so nice and the next same day, the next ride was a chapter that worked for nbc television in burbank and he was connected to the film
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industry and he took me to see the filming of to meet john franken high-rise director, seven days in may and i met burt lancaster and kirk douglas and the next day had coffee with johnny carson. it went on and on, this kind of thing and i was short of money and i entered with 200 american dollar bills when i entered the plane, 38,000 miles later, 182 of them left. the entire trip cost $18. the following year i went back and that was more specific during my summer vacation. quite a keen climber and i was going to do soon timing and much the same thing, i was hitchhiking and they picked me up 4 different series of reasons. i had a union jack on the back,
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this was the year the audience will remember, the perfumer scandal and people would screech to a halt when they saw my union jack and said that i know christine personally? and the great train robbery, they wanted to know if i knew how to rob a train and i knew nothing but kind of poignant side of things i went to the opening of a lock on the st. lawrence seaway to st. mary and was pushed forward to shake hands with president kennedy. you can imagine a few months later he was assassinated, it felt particularly poignant so my love affair with this country was based on a fairly solid foundation but i didn't come back for quite a while. i went off and became a geologist, practiced geology and for a series of reasons which
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are not relevant, i ended up not as a geologist but as a journalist and i joined the guardian, and very difficult beginning of the troubles, a reward for that. in washington. i came back professionally to the united states. in 1972 the story was watergate, mostly stuck in washington at the sam irving committee, the judiciary committee and when nixon resigned, it was occasionally unleashed and allowed to go and look at it. and september of 1974, the day general ford pardoned richard nixon. had i know and it was going to happen in washington, i was in
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idaho covering people can evil's attempt to jump over the canyon. when i phoned in to the foreign desk with a story, because they had seen on the wires, it is scandalous you are not in washington but you are covering this business where this fella didn't have the decency to kill himself which would guarantee he would be on the front page on page 13 and should have been covering richard nixon but anyway, my fascination had now moved from simple legislation to professional fascination and i decided to write a book about it. so i had this idea which i imagine in chicago, will sympathize. i was persuaded that the essence of america, the liquidity of the america of may not on the east coast but or west coast but in
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the midwest. so i drove up and down and up and down into day 35 which goes from international falls down through the middle of the country to texas and a book reported american heart beat, was published in the bicentennial year 1976. i have already written a book on north island which had done relatively well and i think i was infected with this hubris of you thinking this was going to be a success but when i got the statement in 1977 it showed the book had sold precisely 12 copies. it was not a commercial success. a few years ago i had a letter from william in the north shore who you are familiar with who wrote a cheery letters saying he had bought a copy recently bringing my total sales up to
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13. not exactly a moneymaker. then i resumed, getting back into journalism, realizing a way to earn a living and i went off to various places, and the in india for three years and back in london briefly and came to new york for a little while but for 13 years to china and in 1997, when hong kong reverted to chinese rule i had one of those 4 in the road moments where was i going to live in london and establish myself there where i was born or go to new york and i decided it wasn't a flip of the co coin, i thought i would have more success in america so i went to new york and realized i
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was now paying taxes in america and using the old mantra of no taxation without representation, what was familiar to me as a bridge i thought i should try to get american citizenship. i applied for a green card which i managed to get and then you have to wait five years and then begin the mechanics of applying for citizenship and i finally did that in 2010-2011 and was called for my interview, they ask ten questions, all sorts of things, make sure you can speak english and write it but they ask me ten general knowledge questions about america, the first of which i managed to screw up royally. they said to me what is the american national anthem? without thinking about it i blurted out america the beautiful and the immigration officer says we all wish it was not what it is which is the star spangled banner but that is one wrong. you only have nine more shot.
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there is a distinct possibility we may deny you permission but i managed to get the other nine right. that i was sworn in, complicated story how it came about but we allowed 20 people to take the oath on the after deck of the uss constitution which is a wonderful sailing vessel, the oldest commissioned worship in the world, it doesn't flow but this one does. so the oath was performed on independence day 2011 on a hot day and it was magical incredibly moving i have to say. i don't know if you have ever seen an immigration ceremony, the somalis, pakistani, all people who suddenly were free to do what they wish, they could vote and had no fear of arrest, it was wonderful. the judge who swore me and was this remarkable woman who has
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become a personal friend and i had lunch with her on tuesday. she is called maryann bolar, and with the judge at the moment in charge of the boston bombing case. that young man who has been charged of committing the offense woke up she was at his bedside and said essentially are you awake? you know where you are? where do you live? i am a united states federal judge. this gentleman here is the prosecuting attorney, and you are in a great deal of trouble. she is a very interesting and wonderful woman and told me, one of the extraordinary things she said was you would be surprised how many immigrants i swear in, a hundred years, four five years later appeared before me in court in trouble. i want to say to them why? they gave use this chance. anyway, i got my vote
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registration card the next day. throw the rascals out as it were or try to. then got my passport and traveled over, got this about a weekend travel over to london and was very moved. very sentimental. when i return to kennedy and handed my passport to the immigration officer he smiled, looked at it and said welcome home. that was a great feeling to feel i was part of this extraordinary country. that i had become so fond of. at that moment i decided that i would like to have another go at writing the book. the first attempt had failed so dramatically. i could write another book and the lesson i learned was simply that it should not be in any way, shape or form like a book published in 1976, might have a chance of doing a little better. then came the question of what
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should i write about? a huge country full of complexities. the first thought, i put all of these ideas -- you have to write a 30 page proposal for a 10,000 word essay on why i want to write this, no mean effort. the first was simply that i should write a him to the country, tell the story of some detail of why i had fallen in love with it, in such a dramatic way. no, that was not a very good it at all. too saccharine, too sentimental. and because i love railway trains i realize it is possible to cross the entire united states on class iii freight railways from eastporche to california, and i got a ready-made title for the book, 5:45 to parrot dies and the
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reason for that was on my second visit to america as a correspondent i was looking up when texas appeared and looking at where paris, texas was and notice, this was a page full of things, the column of 18, turned out 18 all called paradise. chesney, 18 cities, little villages called paradise. why where they called paradise and where they still parrot dies? i ran an editor in london. this was a time when english magazine and newspaper editors spend money, could not possibly visit all the towns called paradise? no problem at all. so the kind of assignment you would never get today. i set off and first one was parrot dies, fla. a retirement committee, more gave way to paradise than any thing.
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one hopes anyway. then there was parrot dies, pa. which was down the road from intercourse, pa. which excites everybody. and parrot dies, arkansas, paradise, montana, all ruined one way or another by some aspect of north american society except for one which was in northern northwestern kansas, the land of kansas and therefore near the geographical center of the continental u.s.. so i went there and what turned out to be my routine i went to the post office and there was a lady, postmaster, men or women, the post office in this country, and i said i am from england and i am writing at peace about all the towns called paradise and she said here, a little town of 250 people, you have got to stay with the patriarchs of the village as they are called, john and mary angel. i stayed with the angels of
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paradise and mary angel rising to the occasion, when to the garden and picked cherries and baked me at cherry pie and quite honestly if anything sealed my love for the country was eating cherry pie baked by the angels in paradise. as it happens there used to be a union pacific train which would leave in the morning from paradise and come back at 4:30 in the afternoon which the housewife who had been shopping in the markets get back to the farm in time to cook dinner put their husbands and people who worked on the farm. that was train no. 545. that didn't wash. and this was even more juvenile.
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and the anatomy of britain. why don't i write the anatomy of america, based it on the structure of gray's anatomy, not the television program but the book which was published in 1856. it was organized in the cardiovascular system and this could work, the university's, the communications system and highways and arteries. and the skeleton is the bridge work. i was really stumped. and i would like to write a book about this country and the united states of america, the word united. how come america managed to keep
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itself with the exception of the miserable years in the 1860s, united, no large entity on the planet kept itself united in any truly coherent way. since the soviet union dissolved into a dozen middle states, canada, wonderful boy is, there is a great disgruntled frankowphone chung in the middle of it and as i get close to the canadian border the audience will get more restless and i will go to russia. i will tone that bit down. though viewers where i come from, we tried desperately ever since the end of the second world war to unify and manifestly not fully, we in britain don't use the euro, try to plug in your shaver in stockholm you need a plug from the one you use in madrid, they
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sort of glare at each other. that hasn't achieved unity but this place, a mongrel nation full of every color and creed and persuasion and race, linguistic background that you can imagine, and yet an algonquian indian person in maine, and a jewish person in new york or latina in albuquerque, fishermen in oregon can all feel a mystical -- they are all-american but how did this happen? it is possible to say that abstract things like language, common language or belief in democracy or human rights or something like that has helped this unity but my thought was
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the physical agencies of man were the real things that healed this country into one. it is easy few are all the same. if you are all norwegian, blond and have the same manner. my wife is japanese. is easy for japan to unite itself but america, much more difficult. i came up with this idea that inventions and creations and ideas of physical union were actually what you did this country into one. so i sat down and started making a list of all the people i could think of that somehow helped weld the country into one nation and kept it so. this list got longer and longer, familiar people like jefferson and lewis and clark and so forth and a lot of obscure people. i mentioned it to my wife one day and she said you are creating a list of the men who
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united states and i fought my god, that is the title. i looked it up on amazon and all the various book catalogs, no one has ever used this title. such an obvious title. but anticipated the question, also a title that gets me in trouble. i find a very good way of bringing yourself down to earth is taking yourself down a peg or two to look at amazon's one star reviews where they say this is the most boring book i ever read in my life, can't write worth anything. there is one one star review at the moment from a woman who says i am an unabashed militant feminist and i am so appalled at the title the men who united states. i won't even pick it up and read it. i got one star review without even being read. but her view is one that i anticipated.
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why is it all men? fact is the reality is in the physical uniting of america, it has been the business almost entirely of men. the only woman who appears in this story is sacajawea in the lewis and clark saw the. otherwise i am afraid to way women play ancillary rules. they have an important role in other aspect of america but not in its physical union of the nation. so i started establishing this list which got to 100 people on it which may be 75 you had never heard of but nonetheless who i was convinced played a very important part and then you come to how do you organize it? i once talked the university of chicago for a semester and the university of california, created nonfiction writing and i always thought there were three
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key elements to the writing of a nonfiction book, one is the idea. the idea is king. you got to have a terrific idea to write a book. the writing has to be good. but it is not the second most important thing. the second most important thing is the structure of the book. you can write lyrically about a wonderful idea but if the structure is all over the map you are going to lose people. how do you look at these 100 people who played such an important role in the story of the uniting of america? how do you organize it in a way that will make it readable? you could organize them alphabetically? that would be an encyclopedic book. it would not be at all interesting. you could organize them chronologically but i would argue when you look at it closely, similarly just doesn't work. puzzle for two or three weeks and one day i was writing a letter to a friend of mine in
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shanghai, china. suddenly remembered nearly all eastern philosophical systems, there are what are called the classical elements which underpin almost all aspects of life everywhere from india where there are only four, once you get into china, indochina, korea and japan nearly all of them have variation, tinkering buddy sensually five classical elements underpin every aspect of their life and those five elements are wood, earth, water, fire and metal. and i thought it might work to correll all these people and their achievements into the headings of these five the
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elements. thomas jefferson sitting on the terrace in monticello. was obsessed with freeze if any of you have been to monticello, you look at them, he loved the majesty of them. i am sure you know the story. he was sitting on his terrace with his secretary reading of book, late 1802-1803 which had just been sent to him from london written by alexander mackenzie, a scotsman from the hebrides about how he succeeded in crossing the entirety of canada to be inscribed success on a rock in a town in british
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columbia. it was a stellar achievement. jefferson was apoplectic, across canada, and lewis's secretary, this cannot be allowed. across our country and forget the achievements of the canadian and no one remembers alexander mackenzie but everyone remembers lewis and clark. to get to the starting point of the expedition on the missouri north of st. louis. they had to hack their way or drive their way through, and eastern forest so would dominated the journey. they built wooden palace aides where they stopped, wouldn't fires and so on and so forth.
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seemed one could tell the story of early american exploration under the general heading of would. with this continue? earth. iec the geologist, not a very good one of what was going to happen next w involve theology. you knew where the sierra were and the pacific ocean and so on and so forth but what you now needed to know was what america was made of, not just where it was. i had written a book in 2001 called the map that change the
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world about william smith's construction about the first geological map ever constructed. the first was created in america by a man called william mcclure who did a beautiful, totally inaccurate but beautiful map of the geology of the appellations in 18 of 9. my publishers in london tongue in cheek saying perhaps we ought to amend the title of my book, the second map that changed the world, william the tour's was first. so he was doing a survey, then various geologist working west coast, discovered things which lured out people in the east to come out, pioneers in congress togo wagons and other wagons to find gold, farmland, coal, diamondss or whatever the
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geologists found. the four great surveys that president lincoln had his mind on other things, was ordered out into the country in the 1860s which really finally told america what america was made of. so earth seems to work quite well. water, the early american settlers from east coast largely got into the interior of the country by going up the river, the susquehanna and potomac and hudson. after 40 or 50 or 80 miles inland all of them found rapids and whirlpools and settled counts in places like richmond and fredericksburg and washington d.c. and albany. once they establish those settlements, trade goods down from the mountains, they build
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the early canals, perfected the business of building canals and started building more obviously commercial canals, not simply a round rapids in new hampshire which effectively created boston as a city of commerce, ports in new england. the most important of all american canals, the erie canal in albany which make new york the center of commerce that it is today, chicago to the mississippi river, illinois, michigan canal and chicago canal, hugely important in allowing congress to go through the audience. and a catalyst asian and control and containment, and fits neatly in the chapter of water.
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it moved slowly and the canals were completed, and in steam. they had devices that would get across america, the railway train and the transcontinental railroad, the motor corp. is building ultimately the interstate highway system and some detail, and the continental air journeys, these devices were howard by fire. and finally the fifth which is metal working in a chronological since, and all predated metal,
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metal conductor, and the distribution of electricity and radio and television and cable television and the internet all seemed to work moderately well. so put the idea to the publishers and thought this would work. that worked, that level, the question now early on in publication of this book is wet through the critics will see it that way. mercifully the two major reviews that came out in the last few days of its publication have been entirely positive. with it they will continue to be or not i don't know, but to put it in its crudest, one worries when one has come a put a slightly eccentric idea, i think, i hope that i have gotten away with it. i don't want you to think this is a cynical approach to writing that you are nervous, look at
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america through the optic of chinese classical elements is something some people might find offensive but we will seek the audrey's are fairly good. of what i thought i would do and i would mention at the beginning, the plum pudding of a book is to take a couple plums, a couple of these categories that i mentioned, things that i didn't know about when i wrote the book and i would be interested to know what you know. i will select one place, one person and a couple of other events. the first place i didn't know anything about because there is no shame about it, i would like to ask, you won't be identified on television mercifully, who knows about a town called east liverpool, ohio? no one knows it, this is great. and yet i would argue east
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liverpool, ohio is one of the most important towns in america, certainly in the story of the making of america. you probably all got something in your house that was made in east liverpool because until recently it was a crockery capital of the country and so all your forks are not made of clarke-reed but all your teapots and things probably were made to in east liverpool. now the 400 or so have been reduced to two. is a salon broken-down home on the right banks, the west bank of the ohio river. up north where ohio, pennsylvania, that tiny little sliver of worcester junior at all meet, and it is important for no obvious reason accept when you drive from east liverpool eastward towards the bridge over the ohio you notice
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an obelisk beside the road and that obelisk is hugely important because of thomas jefferson and an act that he passed before he became president in 1785. a hugely important act in the making of america and that was the land ordinance of 1785. up to that point in the eastern united states the model of land ownership was modeled in the british isles, belonged to the king or the aristocracy or the church and ordinary people have no right or business to the homeland. jefferson thought this was entirely wrong and for this country to prosper everyone should have the right to buy and own land. because after rawl the tangible good they could trade would give them something to grow crops on, they could build on, developed, do all sorts of things with this
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land and the government could levy taxes on it and thereby allow itself to administer the country. the country has many debts to pay which is the revolutionary war. it seemed an ideal which everyone was a winner and it passed in congress and as a consequence of it, decided so americans will allow -- to buy land. let us find out where the land is. let us survey ed, a range it in ranges and sections. when you fly over the western united states, nebraska or kansas or arizona, i urge you to do so when you are bored, you look at these lines running north, south, constantly to see how fast the airplane is going,
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there pointed north. palmer measurements that passed into linguistic lower but those lines begin somewhere. thomas hutchins was appointed the first-ever geographer of the united states and he decreed the point of beginning as it was called would be built in east liverpool, ohio on the ohio river at the junction of pennsylvania, ohio and west virginia. the obelisk you will see today if you hurry past it, the point of the beginning and follow up to the north pole, the meridian east and west, baseline east and west to the pacific ocean, the point is tremendously important symbol of the development of modern america. there is litter all over the place, no place to park. in your view this does everything it might anchorage
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some people in ohio to build a visitors center, protection center and bring every schoolchild in the region to see how america was originally survey and laid out thanks to the wisdom of some -- thomas jefferson. the other thing, did heroic work, and personal life was quite extraordinary, clarence king. and the geological survey, the 1860s and 1870s, were slightly dulled men who survey most of the coast of nebraska, the northern plains, then in yellowstone, and the battle of shiloh, despite that disability manage to get all the way to the
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grand canyon, and the power would be spinning in their graves. and some while ago, trivial reasons, argument in congress, national parks they essentially discover have to be shot down but then there is the fourth man and he is called clarence king. the first king is fascinating, diminutive, highly educated, and using from newport, road island across the american west from a very good family. and a ph.d. in harvard comment at the age of 27, in charge of the survey of all the land between sacramento and cheyenne in the north, 40th parallel survey, took seven years and the
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books and maps, and beautifully accomplished. and doing the survey, the reward for doing it, the first-ever director of this newly established, united states geological survey still exists today in its entire day. and john wesley -- his personal life which i want to mention briefly, i was astonished because -- he was a very energetic young man but he did not like white women. he loved native american women and he loved black women. one day in new york, when he was 60 but still clearly had many a
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moment. he saw coming towards him a black woman who thought this was the creature of my dreams. what he should have done we all think nowadays is go up to her and say good evening, madison, i am clarence king, director of the united states geological survey, please have dinner but to some extraordinary reason, wasn't exactly welcomed in those days, he went up to her and said thinking very quickly on his feet, good evening, madame, my name is james todd, and although i may look white, i am in fact black, and i emma porter with the polling company which as you know what the job reserved for black people. will you have dinner with me? she agreed. was a the copeland from a slave family in chattahoochee, ga. they had dinner, fell in love, married, had five children, and
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for the next 20 years which turned out to be the last 20 years of his life, he lived two entirely separate lives, never telling either side about the other. lisa loeb's down with mrs. todd and the little todds in queens in new york and every couple of weeks would say to her my darling, i am going to go to catch the 20th century limited or the california zephyr and i will see you in two week that he would leave the house and walk through queens across newly built brooklyn bridge to lower manhattan where his offices were and say hello, geologists, i have been on a field trip and will be here for a couple weeks writing the my notes, he would write up his notes, go to a hotel and after two weeks would say good bye, off on another field trip, back across the brooklyn bridge, resume his identity of james todd, hello
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darling, how are the little children, two of whom to not her particular surprise were white. and resume his life that he allegedly earned on the train. this deception continued for 20 years and got him in terrible financial trouble, had to borrow money from the secretary of state, also went very mad at one period, he hit someone quite hard. he had to be put into an asylum for a couple weeks. and eventually fell ill with tuberculosis and was sent to albuquerque to convalesce but actually to die. and he confessed to his doctor, the only person he had ever told, didn't tell john hay or his fellow geologists'. he said i think you ought to send a message to mrs. todd in queens that her name is actually
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mrs. king and her husband is not even a tiny bit black but entirely white from a good family in newport, road island and i am frightfully sorry for the confusion that may now attend to her. he then died. the doctor very kindly but in a way may sound sentimental but place in to the book in a way, had the certificate of death and asked for the race of the deceased and he scored out the words black and white and wrote in handwriting american. that seemed to me quite charming. two final things which relate to the chapter part of the book dominated by metal, the first is about electricity. i became fascinated with i am sure you are aware of the basic ideas behind the distribution of
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electricity, thomas edison went on to found general electric, was the first to distribute electricity, build a power station in lower manhattan, distributed dc power. d.c. in the power station, the dimmer the lights or the lower the power. then nicholas tesla invented ac, the patent was born by george westinghouse and there was a battle of the current, whether ac or d.c. was better and edison thought of valiant effort by saying d.c. because ac was dangerous. one of the things he did, don't know if you have seen it but this remarkable video clip which you can see on youtube, he showed a sea was dangerous and could be used to you electrocute people and indeed elephants and he electrocuted and filmed the assassination of electrocution of an elephant called cocci, attacked one of her keepers but
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hardly surprising glee, a diet of lit cigarettes. decided they would kill her and use electricity if they could. it they gave her a lunch of parrot laced with cyanide and put proper boots and a big circular boots on her legs and maneuvered her onto a metal plate and pulled the lever and you see the results which are quite distressing, they start to smoke and the up for things thrashers over, 2-1/2 tons of her and died quickly and effectively. despite this, ac won the day, westinghouse won the contract at the chicago fair in the 89s and we have had ac ever since. not everyone in america had electricity. the city's did, the suburbs did but the farmers did not. and so one of the things, there were 800 which had no
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electricity and in the wintertime particularly the eyes being melted and cattle being milked, lights and so forth, do it without electricity, the amount of farming that was needed to satisfy the needs of the huge population, it was erected for american farmers and one of the things roosevelt did when he came into power to set up the rural electrification administration and farms were steadily eliminated and the irony i want to mention to you is the first farm effort eliminated thanks to the efforts of roosevelt's new deal and big government was in western ohio, specifically a town called miami, ohio, in what is now the eighth congressional district of ohio, the eighth congressional district is today the constituency of john boehner.
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so john boehner, the archetype of anti big government, his district benefits hugely from the biggest government that america has ever known. the final thing i want to say, this is where i bring the telephone and i hope it is going to work, cross my fingers, relates to radio. you all know that radio invented essentially by marconi in 1902. the image you can all remember was marconi sitting on the head land signal hill in newfoundland on a stormy night with the aerial held on a kite 300 feet above his head listening and howling gale for the possibility of the letter s in moore's being transmitted by his colleagues to thousand miles away in cornwall, 2:00 in the morning this magical moment when suddenly he heard, ultimately hurt with core great
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clarity being broadcast all the way across the atlantic ocean so radioland transoceanic radio was suddenly a reality. that was fine but as far as knitting the country together, conversation in morse code was not off the desk. the intimacy of sending messages by morse. what you really needed was to transmit the human voice. that was all down to a forgotten man, remember marconi, probably don't remember this man, reginald aubrey, a canadian who worked in america for the national weather bureau and he came up, technically adept man with a means of transmitting voice, the initials you know well, a m f m, and thedeletion, frequency much a nation where his invention.
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they allow basically to bolt on microphone like this on to a radio transmitter in stead of moore's tapper and transmit any thing the microphone could pick up with music or someone like me speaking or the sound of the wind or whatever. this change everything. the wave radio unites families and the country is very emblematic of technology of the 1930s and 40s and 50s, the idea of the nuclear family gathered around a radio set, mother and father, children, dogs and cats, gathered in front of the radio listening to a comedy program from los angeles or play being broadcast from new york. that is radio at its best unifying a family and a nation but it was conducted in a voice. i think it is going to work.
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what he did was wrote out how to do with, bill two huge aerials, one in massachusetts rather near plymouth rock, another one in scotland and transmitted text messages. when he realized he got it all right he then sent shortly before christmas of 19006 a message by morse code to all the ships in the western atlantic that belonged to the united fruit co. that were bringing bananas up from places like honduras to the east coast ports of boston, new york, baltimore, charleston, savannah, saying quite simply listen up for broadcast that one minute to midnight on christmas eve so christmas eve 1906 happened to be a dark and stormy night. there was a blizzard blowing off of cape cod and the ships were lumbering through the ocean towards their ports but all of
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them the radio operators went to their radio shack, switched on their radios through the static, through the signals of the other ships talking to one another and suddenly heard something quite different they had never heard before. they heard this. ♪ >> thus did the national conversation begin. a few days after is that radio station opened in pasadena, calif. a musical instrument store which still exists,
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shortly thereafter the first-ever real radio station opened in madison, wisconsin just up the road and america started talking to itself. that image that i cherish so much of the family in front of the radio said actually truly began on christmas eve 1906 when he played handel's music, nothing to do with america, all about a king of persia huddling under a shade tree, then came on, said the lord's prayer and wished all the ships at sea a happy christmas and that was the beginning of the most unifying feature of modern america. thank you all very much indeed. [applause] >> so i know that there are some limitations imposed by television but i would be
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delighted if there are any questions, i will try to answer them. >> would this be different in america? different perspective because in another country, was a visitor? >> i do know what you mean. not too long ago to the canyon in eastern arizona. i don't know if any of you have been there. a wonderful canyon full of anasazi dwellings, every single person was there a part from the navajo guide was european, writing all course with an italian or argentine, non-american is what i am trying to say. it seems to me that the people that are most curious about this country are outsiders and americans who i love and i am an american now are some how conditioned not generally speaking to be as curious about
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their country as perhaps they should be. it is such a remarkable country. as with things like east liverpool, ohio, this is going to sound critical, i don't mean to be hostile in any sense, a lack of curiosity which i think gives an advantage to people like me from outside because i am curious. i want to know what is over the mountain range and down the river. it would have been a very different book divided board and bread and educated in this country. i would be more curious on africa or somewhere else and not curious about this country. this country is full of wonder. sayre? >> i read two or three of your books and i am fascinated with the amount of interesting information, the way you put your ideas together and then i
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have to think about the research, your curiosity, you have written so many books, do you do all the research yourself? are you able to get others to help you with your research? >> terrible thing to say but i wouldn't rely on others. i wouldn't want to. i love doing the research. to give you an example in this book i am fascinated with the construction, the idea behind the interstate highway system from the conventional view that eisenhower got the idea when seeing the audubons in germany after world war ii but that is not true. the idea was generated when he was appointed as an observer on the transcontinental military convoy with the sense to across america by such roads in 1919 and this young lieutenant, i was
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going to say lieutenant, trying to become and -- speaking american, appointed as the observer and kept a diary on what turned out to be a complete shambles because this three mile convoy setting out from the south lawn of the white house took 58 days to reach lincoln in san francisco because west of omaha there were no roads. ..
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>> i have to surround myself with maps so i can get a sense of where you are and learn the
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landscape with you. when you write the books did you surround yourself with maps or are they in your head? >> no. and i spend a lot of money because i go to the places. i went to the new york where they have a chart agent and i am about to begin a book a book on the pacific ocean and i bought a lot of maps. i adore maps. i have to say the maps of the u.s. survey are my favorites and are works of art in and of themselves. and book probably most of you will not have, but if you can find a second-hand one, the
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national atlas of the united states which was published in 1970. it is expensive to buy. but if you can find a second-hand copy it is a joy. the london time atlas, which in my view is the best atlas in the world, i always give it as a wedding present. it is huge. as big as this table. but i also put the same inscription. may all your travels to all of the these places be healthy, happy and serene. and last wreer the -- last year the publisher wrote this on the back jacket of the book -- so now i just write with love. thank you for your question. i love maps and i am glad you to
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do. >> are you aware of the -- [inaudible conversation] >> are you a librarian there? there was an incredible attempt to produce the international map of the world where the entire world would be mapped in the same scale and made in a way that if you tape them all together they would produce a spear one millionth the size of the world. it would be 1800 sheets to cover the world less than the sea. america mapped china. they didn't want countries to
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map themselves. and the map started coming out. but by 1984, the effort produced 1600. at a conference in bangkok they said let's abandon it. the only completed one are in that map collection. so it is a great library. >> well if no body else i will thank you all for your time. thank you very much. it has been great. [ applause ] >> visit the author's website simon


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